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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Review - Mustang

Director: Deniz Gamze Eguven - France, Turkey, Germany

Five high-spirited girls say goodbye to their teacher who is leaving for Istanbul and, on their way home, they decide to play with some of their male classmates at the beach. To us, it seems harmless but in a remote Turkish village it creates a stir and the neighbors start talking. Their uncle comes to the rescue. He wants to make sure their virginity is ensured and he has the doctor check them out. He then beats them as though they were whores despite the doctor’s assurance that everything is in order. He then takes them away from their grandmother who has been raising them since their parent’s death. Once he has them under his thumb, their lives become dull with the learning of house chores and finding appropriate husbands for the girls.

Despite their confinement, they began to figure out ways of escaping to have a bit of freedom such as going to a soccer game that unfortunately could be seen live on broadcast. It soon becomes clear the more they push their boundaries, the more the house becomes their prison. Like wild mustangs running in the fields in spring, their sexuality slowly awakes. It is not a wonder that soon the girls are pitted against their uncle, the prearranged weddings and all other obstacles that stand in their way. This is a beautiful film where these five girls are strong together but have an emotional sensitivity which is constantly being tested in order to break their wills. There is an underlining tension that is present and as the girls attempt to get release it, it because a noose that binds them ever tighter. We see the traditional structure of a remote society that is ready to burst and become modern through female empowerment, but do these girls stand a chance? All five sisters give brilliant performances. You feel their freedom and their confinement and the despair that is ever prevalent. This was my favorite pick at the festival this year. (Shelly S.)

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